Illustrations by Anjali Menon
Translated from Hindi by Neha
I am 31 now. Girls are often married by this age. My situation was different. There were problems at home, and so, I was busy focusing on my career. I had no time to seriously consider marriage. Although, that wasn’t the only reason. Truth is, I believe that unless you find someone who loves you and accepts you with all your shortcomings, it makes no sense to get married. There is no point doing it just to conform to societal pressures. I have many friends, girls and boys.These friends are there for me, anytime I need them. But for about two years now, I have started to feel like I need a partner. Someone with whom I could spend the rest of my life.
Looking for this someone has not been easy! I wanted someone from another region. Someone who was not a part of my own circle. I wanted to start afresh, and have a completely different set of conversations with that person. A few of my friends have taken the help of dating apps to find a partner, and they suggested that I try the same. So, I bravely made my profile on a dating app. The app gives you several options to express precisely what it is that you are looking for. Did I want short term dating, long term dating, a hook up or simply a new friend? I selected the long-term dating option. And to make it even clearer, added that I was looking for someone to marry.
I met different types of boys on the app. Some had landed there just after a breakup, , some because they were keen to talk to a girl without any desire for longer commitment, some wanted a girl who could be their friend, some were looking for a sex chat. Others were even married, but unhappy with their wives and just wanted to feel the thrill of talking to a girl on the sly. I had zero interest in this last type. I was quite clear about what I wanted. But even after having used the dating app for a few months, I hadn’t found my kind of person. In fact, most of them didn’t even know how to talk to a woman. Then, one day, I got a message from a boy. He had answered all the questions on his profile in detail. I started talking to him, and thought maybe he was my Mr. Right. He could make me laugh during serious moments. I liked his way of looking at social issues. And so, I shared my number and we began having regular conversations. We would talk through messaging, audio and video calls. Slowly, I began to feel emotionally invested.
I asked him if he felt the same…did he like me too? He’d always say ‘yes’, but if I mentioned marriage, he’d have a muddy answer. In fact, whenever I’d ask to meet-up, he would say, “hey, we see each other on video call, do we really need to meet up? ” I would keep trying to renew my trust in him. It was only after three-four months, that I finally asked him to tell me what exactly he had in mind for us. He blurted out that he had no plans to marry me. When I asked him why, he couldn’t give me a reason. I asked him if he had known all along that he would not marry me. He said yes. He also said that he had swiped right on the app without any prior thought, and just started to talk to me. I was hurt. He’d kept me in the dark. He’d never said he was not looking for a long-term relationship. And the most hurtful thing he did was to suggest to me that I should try taking the arranged-marriage route, like ‘regular girls’. I was furious. I snapped and told him that men did not have exclusive rights to dating apps.
His behaviour left a deep sadness. I felt emotionally unstable and it took me a long, hard time to recover from this feeling. A few months later, I worked at pulling myself together and convinced myself to make a profile again, on the same dating app. I received a message just a few days later. This boy had written to say that if I really wanted a serious relationship, we could talk. I said yes, and we started talking. I wanted to play safe this time and so did not share my number with him. We chatted and called each other through a free app. The first month went quite well. Like me, he too was inclined towards literature. We shared similar views on several issues. He once told me that if he liked me, he would like to get married. I told him then how I too was looking for someone to marry and settle down with. And then, one day, I said that I felt quite positive about our relationship, and that if he liked me, we could talk to our families. He said I should get to know him better, before moving forward. I suggested we have more video calls, thinking that might help him know me better. He’d keep postponing, to a tomorrow that never came. He messaged me one day to say he really liked me. Two days later, he disappeared. I got anxious. I did not know where to look for him. I was worried that he might have fallen ill, or met with an accident. He had never shared his number or Facebook profile.
The day I acknowledged to myself that I liked him, I’d deleted my profile from the dating app as a kind of commitment to our conversation. I’d shared this with him. In fact, I had also asked him once what he would do if he found a girl better than me. He replied, “when I am talking to you, why would I look for any other girl?” He told me that he too would delete his profile. When I heard no word from him for almost a week, I created a fake profile on the same dating app and started searching for him. It took some work, but I finally found his profile. I messaged him as someone he did not know…an unknown girl looking for a serious relationship. I asked if he was interested, and said that then, we could talk. He replied with a yes. I further asked if he had ever found a suitable girl on the app. He said that he had spoken to a few girls, but things hadn’t worked out. I understood, then, that he’d played me. He’d told me he had found me and so would not look for any other girl, but, in fact, he had never stopped looking. He was never serious about me.
Both of these experiences have affected me emotionally. It seems to me that if I ever find a good person now, I will hesitate to trust him. Yes, I agree that everyone should have the right to like or dislike a person. But if you are in a dilemma, or if you are looking for something else, then to continue with someone who is hopeful is just wrong. So if someone is looking for a serious relationship, and you are on that app with a more casual interest, you should not talk to that person or lie about your intentions. I believe that the two boys I have written about here actually betrayed me. If you are not honest about your intentions, and knowingly let the other person connect with you emotionally, you are doing wrong. You are deceiving that person.
I think I would like to end with this…the people you find on dating apps are complete strangers. It is important to think rationally before moving ahead. Before connecting emotionally, it is necessary to see that you do not get hurt. And if you are thinking about marriage, it is better to meet the person several times before taking such big decisions. Yes, the truth is that if someone has to cheat, they will even if you don’t meet them on an app and no matter how cautious you are. Maybe what we can do is try to never deceive someone intentionally. Acknowledge that deliberately hurting someone is to be avoided, and is also a kind of crime!